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Obesity is one of the major health issues faced in the country, says Dr Baskaran Vasudevan, who is in the country to conduct consultations and screenings for patients.
Dr Vasudevan, a renowned gastrointestinal and bariatric surgeon from India with more than 30 years experience has been brought by the MIOT Pacific Hospitals in Suva to conduct consultations over three months.
Dr Vasudevan said his main purpose in Fiji was to enhance the medical services available in the country.
“I am here to identify key areas where we can participate and improve the health of the people here. I also specialise in managing people with obesity,” he said.
“Obesity is the main cause of nearly all the diseases and most of the people who are diagnosed are obese.”
According to Dr. Vasudevan, obesity was a major problem in Fiji.
“A lot of people who have come to me for consultation and checkups have a problem with being overweight. Being overweight also leads to diabetes and hypertension. This is my primary concern over here,” he said.
“While giving advice to people, we go up to a particular level in patients with dietary control and physical activity.”
However, Dr Vasudevan said this advice did not work on people who have much larger bodies.
"If a person weighs, say about 120-200 kilogrammes, dietary control and physical activity doesn't help at all," he said.
“Contrary to popular belief, obesity is not eating more and walking less. It is because of multiple factors. Some are inherited through the genes.
“These genes dedicate how much food a person will intake. The advice to people is that if it's genetic, there is very little they can do.”
Dr Vasudevan said it was not easy to manage obesity and sometimes people give up on themselves while trying to.
“If somebody has a gross weight, this will determine how much fat a person has in his/her body. This is called body mass index (BMI). If anyone in the world has a BMI more than 40, they are given advice on having surgery to reduce weight,” he said.
Dr Vasudevan said being overweight reduced a person's life span by three years if that particular person was overweight by 10kg.
“For example if a person is overweight by 40kg, then he or she is cutting their life span by 12 years. That's how damaging it is,” he said.
“The response from the patients when I give this advice is that they are alarmed at the risks involved. But they understand as they have seen in their own family, members having heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes all because of obesity.”
Dr Vasudevan said medical equipment and the facilities available in the country were up to international standards compared with other places in the world.
“I have been to Europe, Australia and the United States, and I would say Fiji is par with them when it came to facilities and resources,” he said.
“But I think there is a shortage of skilled people in the health system here. Most of them probably migrate to foreign countries leaving a huge gap in the workforce here”.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
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